Good morning church! We are going through a series in the Gospel of Mark trying to see from Scripture what does it say about who Jesus Is! So we are not relying on tradition or merely our human experiences or culture to determine who Jesus Is. Rather we’ve been investigating and digging deep into the character and works of Jesus as recorded in the Bible to understand this. Today’s passage is a very familiar one yet so relevant for our lives today. If you could turn with me to Mark 4:35-41.
 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I absolutely loved going for youth camps! The night prior to the first day of the camp was filled with so much of excitement that at times I would forget to sleep. I loved the feeling of going to a place out of town with other believers to study the Word of God, sing melodious songs of worship through the day for 3 days, have meaningful group discussions with my peers and have lots of fun with the whole group! During those 3 days, with every sermon that was preached and every discussion that was conducted, I felt like I was growing so close to Jesus. But the moment I returned back to my usual schedule after the camp and faced my demanding boss, I realized where exactly I stood in my walk with Jesus. I realized that my faith wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. It was very shaky. My responses and attitude toward my boss whenever he would pressure on me did not show my faith positively. Often it’s the difficult times that really give us the best view of our walk with Jesus. It helps us know if we are trusting in God or not. If you’ve ever faced this tension and are wondering how to respond to the storms in your life, I believe today’s passage offers so much of hope. It gives us three reasons to trust God during difficult times.
1. We can trust God during difficulties because He is in complete control of our destiny
 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. (v35, 36)
Jesus spent the whole day teaching people in many parables. He taught them so many things about the kingdom of God. He spoke about what it meant to be a real follower, what these followers would do and how would the kingdom of God grow. So much was being taught in parables, but only those who genuinely wanted to understand came back to Jesus and asked him for an explanation. These disciples gained a lot of head knowledge like the youth camp experience, but Jesus wanted to give them a lesson on what real faith looks like. Again, it’s interesting to see that this lesson wasn’t given to the crowd but to those who really wanted to follow Jesus. So he tells them to take the boat to the other side of the sea. We see Jesus initiating the plan to go to the other side so that He could reveal Himself to them. The storm wasn’t an unexpected incident that happened to the disciples but was part of Jesus’ sovereign plan to help them trust Him. We don’t see Jesus being surprised or fearful during the storm. In fact, what do we see Him do? He is asleep as a hurricane is taking place and as the boat is filling up. Jesus can afford to sleep during a storm because He is in perfect control of the situation. He knows what’s going to take place and He knows the end.
What’s would you say is the main difference between an experienced cricketer and a young inexperienced cricketer? Most people would say temperament. The way they handle tough circumstances shows their experience. A young cricketer who is just fresh into the sport will try to hit big shots and lose his wicket when the run rate is high. The experienced cricketer through his experience knows how to navigate the game even though the run rate is high. With all the experience, he knows how to win games even under pressure. He knows what is achievable and he’ll remain calm under those circumstances. Guess what happens to the entire team when the experienced cricketer is on the field? They’ll all relax because they know that they can trust his experience during a tough time. That’s the case with an ordinary human being who is only experienced in cricket. How much more relaxed can we as believers be to trust in God who knows all things and is in complete control of the end of all things?
Sometimes when we go through different types of difficulties and trying circumstances like financial troubles, we may express out of our pain “God, please don’t be silent. I’m going through a severe time of difficulty which is too hard to bear. Do you understand what I’m going through? Father, are you still in control of my life?” We may ask these questions in doubt and pain, but let’s realize how sure and firm is God’s control of our destiny. He is God not man to lose control and be afraid.
Psalm 139:4: Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
Luke 12:7: Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
So although the timing and the answers God gives to people’s prayers vary due to His plans and purposes, it doesn’t mean that God’s not in control. He works everything perfectly in a way to bring glory to Himself and for our best interests.
2. We can trust God during difficulties because He is present with us
 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
This windstorm was a hurricane like situation. The waves and waters were filling up the boat and they were really in a very dangerous situation. But why does Jesus tell them “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Why was Jesus implying that they should not be afraid and they should have faith? Isn’t fear natural to a person when he is facing a cyclone situation and is on the sea? I think one of the reasons was because He wanted them to realize that His presence with them should assure them of safety and protection. Not only is God in control of the destiny of these disciples but Jesus’ physical presence with them meant that He was joining them during their stormy journey. You know if Jesus wanted to, he could’ve taught his disciples this lesson without physically being there. But he chose to be present with them through the storm. And that’s probably one of the most encouraging things and different things we see in the Christian faith compared to any other religious belief system. In every other religious system, God is perceived as someone who is not personal and acts out judgments from a distance and demands people to keep up to a rule book. In the Christian faith as described in the Bible, God is so personally attached to His people. He is not disconnected from us but wants to be involved in every single area. When we mess up, he personally sends His Son into the world as a human to live among us, then die on the cross for our sins and then rise again on the third day so that we can be with God forever. That’s the extent of God’s desire to be present with us. He removed every reason to be disconnected from us in order that He remains with us forever. That’s why you have even more of a reason to trust God during difficult times, because he does not abandon you…rather He says “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”.
I remember a time growing up when I was scared of some older boys who seemed like bullies in my area. I was always intimidated by them and so I would be afraid every time I walked past them alone. I told this to my dad and even though it wasn’t possible for my dad to be with me every single time but I knew whenever I walked with my dad, I wasn’t afraid because he was there with me. I felt secure and safe. If the presence of our earthly parents makes us feel safe, how much more secure should we be during times of difficulty because of our heavenly Father?
So as we go through a difficult situation in our life. It could be a difficult relationship with a close family member or a colleague. There could be a lot of resentment and insecurity built over the years and it’s taking time for that relationship to heal. Sometimes God instantly restores a relationship while other times it takes a while. Probably there are still insults being hurled at you, you are made to feel guilty and you feel miserable about the state of the relationship. What do you need the most right now? It’s not sympathetic words or ways to fight back. Know that you need the presence of Jesus. Know that Jesus is with you through this difficult time. Know that Jesus doesn’t abandon you. How do you become aware of God’s presence? As you meditate on His Word and respond back in prayer. Sometimes we make God’s presence to be a feeling or experience. The more we Jesus through the pages of the Bible, the more real and active will His presence be for us. His presence will comfort you and will assure you of safety and protection.
3. We can trust God during difficulties because He is all-powerful
 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Just imagine being on that boat. You are all terrified because of the great hurricane. You think you’re going to die and Jesus rebukes the wind and tells the sea to be silent and there is an instant change of weather and sea conditions! That was how startling it was for these disciples. They are astonished and in fact fearful because now they recognize he’s not just a teacher but he is Almighty God who commands nature and they obey His voice. If God didn’t have all the power and authority, then we would have enough reason to doubt if God can handle our difficulties. But that’s not the case, God’s power to do as He wills and to instantly transform conditions or create things that never existed gives us all the more reason to trust Him completely.
There are many stories we hear of people who have complaints about a product that they’ve used. They end up contacting the customer service for weeks and there’s no solution to their problem. Then out of sheer frustration they write a letter to the CEO of the product company not knowing if it will even reach the CEO but they still go ahead and send it. Within few days, the representatives contact the person and rectify the solve the issue that they are facing.
The reason why the letter to the CEO has such a strong and quick impact is because the CEO has so much of power within the company. He can decide the fate of the employee and so he can make things happen quickly. The person writes to the CEO because he trusts in the authority of the CEO. We can trust God with our difficulties because He has the power and the authority to execute His plans. There is nothing in the universe that is impossible with God.
This should encourage us to come to God with every difficulty that we face in our lives. There’s nothing too big and neither is there nothing too small for God. At the same time, I’m not saying that God will always answer our prayers as we want it. Even Jesus being the Son of God at the garden said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And God’s purpose was that Jesus would suffer so that through His suffering all of us could be saved. So we must come to God with our requests no matter how difficult it may be trusting in the fact that God is powerful to do as He wants. Remember Jesus is not merely a teacher who came to the earth to give us theology, He is God – maker of heaven and the earth, ruler and judge of all things and people, the Only Way to God and the giver of eternal life! You can certainly trust in His power and authority as you approach Him with your requests. And once we’ve handed over the issues to God, to exhibit child like trust and believe that God will answer as He knows best.
What we truly believe in, what is the condition of our faith…all these things get revealed clearly and prominently during a difficult time or a storm in your life. But as we studied today, we can absolutely trust God in our difficulties because He is in complete control of our destiny, He is present with us and He is all-powerful.